Christian Band Asks Atheist Guitarist to Step Down

Christian metalcore band Haste the Day has asked guitarist Jason Barnes to step down after months of spiritual searching by their close friend concluded with his loss of faith in God.

"This is going to come as a shock to many of you," the group wrote to fans in their official MySpace page Friday. "After much prayer and thought given to the matter, we asked Jason Barnes to step down from his involvement with Haste the Day."

In their statement, the seven-year-old band from Indianapolis explained that Barnes had been "searching and searching for real meaning in his existence."

"After several months of reading literature and talking with friends, Jason had determined that he felt there was no God and certainly no Jesus," the group revealed.

"We as a band do not have problem with those that do not believe in Jesus, nor do we cast judgement (sic) on those that do not believe in Jesus," the band continued. "We just want to love on people like Jesus would and hopefully share a little bit about what he's done and doing in our lives."

However, as the group identifies itself as a Christian band, the remaining band members felt they could not have someone "who didn't agree with the band's foundational drive," even though Barnes was "one of our closest friends."

Furthermore, the band acknowledged how the difference in belief had created a "tear" in their relationship with Barnes, which they said they are all working on mending.

"Jason's new found disbelief in what the rest of us have committed our lives to began to cause disunity within the band and as a result, we prayed and talked about it and felt like God was saying it wasn't time for Haste the Day to come to an end. [Thus], we asked Jason to leave."

The now four-member band said they are not looking to replace Barnes with a new guitar player. Their friend, Dave Krysl, will instead be their full-time touring guitar player.

The surprising announcement comes three months before the Oct. 14 release of the band's next album, "Dreamer," and only two weeks before the Aug. 1 release of a new song from the album.

Known for its spiritual metal sound, which attracted fans nationwide, Haste the Day has produced albums containing Christian-oriented messages, with lyrics that are often introspective rather than "preachy."

Its last album, Pressure the Hinges, debuted last year at number 89 on the U.S. Billboard 200, selling about 10,000 copies in its first week.

The band is currently signed with Christian record label Solid State Records.

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